Maggie Thatcher may have been a staunch Cold Warrior, but she wasn’t too thrilled about Ronald Reagan’s invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, where ultra-leftists had assassinated the pro-Cuban leader, Maurice Bishop. After all, Grenada, in spite of its leftist government, was still a member of the British Commonwealth, and Maggie hadn’t been let in the loop. Check out Ishaan Tharoor’s piece in the Washington Post on the subject: go here for a transcript of the Reagan-Thatcher phone conversation (wherein the Gipper apologizes).
In a modern era of global military empire, mass indiscriminate NSA data-grabbing, and unaccountable killer cops, an age-old issue vital to liberty is often overlooked or forgotten: that of conscription. On this Veterans’ Day, while most solemnly reflect on the valiant service of their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers in one of the many blood-soaked American military conflicts of the last century, let us not forget those given no choice in the matter.
In the United States, it’s only been about four short decades since the "draft" – i.e. total and outright government-mandated slavery – has been out of favor with the policy-crafting class. But for many decades in the US, and for thousands of years all around the world, politicians and war-makers have freely employed such slave labor, attained from any poor soul that was called upon to provide it.
Today, then, instead of spewing forth blind reverence and adoration for soldiers and veterans, let’s examine the institution of conscription, briefly review its history, and show its particular relevance to human liberty. The amount of suffering and loss that is attributable to conscription is likely incalculable, and, more importantly, its wane in popularity in the US may only be temporary in the face of the ongoing "perpetual war for perpetual peace".
UPDATE: It was too good to be true. A Norwegian director has come forward and the story of how the video was promoted have come out: it was staged and shot in Malta.
The original post follows:
The video shows the youngster, about 8 years old, weave his way down a dusty street, dodging bullets to reach a terrified girl cowering behind a car. The boy even plays dead at one point to deceive the sharpshooters, who miss hitting both children as they appear to safely run off.
The video has not been authenticated, and it is puzzling as to who took it, but it does appear authentic. Activists say it’s real, some critics say it is faked. It doesn’t seem fake to me. Either way, it is worth watching.
Recent Palestinian attacks against Israel suggest a new uprising (intifada) of the loners is on the making to which Israel may have no sufficient response.
The stabbing of several Israeli youth near the Alon Shvut colony in the Occupied West Bank by a Palestinian man, the stabbing of an Israeli soldier on November 10 in Tel Aviv, and the running over of several Israeli citizens in Occupied East Jerusalem that resulted in the death of an infant last week, all indicate that a new intifada or uprising is well underway.
Yet while similar intifadas were marked by popular uprisings throughout the West Bank that disrupted the Israeli status-quo and sense of normalcy, as was the case in the Al Aqsa Intifada of 2000, or in the first intifada of 1987, popular protests that took place in recent days in the West Bank and inside Israel (particularly in the Galilee, where a Palestinian youth was shot several days ago, and in East Jerusalem) have been contained to a significant degree by Israel forces who are well accustomed to popular protests and who fired tear gas canisters on the demonstrators.
Young enlisted in the Army following the September 11 attacks, volunteering to go to Afghanistan. He was sent to Iraq, and was left paralyzed by a bullet on the fifth day of his deployment. In 2008, he explained that “many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart, only to see them subverted and bastardized by the administration and sent into the wrong country.”
Young was the subject of the award-wining documentary Body of War by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro.
You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Asked by Democracy Now! last year how he would want to be remembered, he said: “That I fought as hard as I could to keep young men and women away from military service. I fought as hard as I could to keep another me from coming back to Iraq.”
Watch Young reading his letter to Bush and Cheney below: